It is really tough being a young man in an old man’s body. Mentally, I am somewhere around 22 and physically I am around 122. I am not complaining. I am just coming to a realization, an acceptance of reality actually.
The TV volume continues to creep down on me even as Ruth’s hearing continues to improve. I don’t read quickly enough to understand the captioning and still see the show or movie. I am exhibiting the head nod and smile of incomprehension when others speak to me. Since mostly the conversation proceeds as though the speaker did not notice, I assume that most conversations don’t contain items of importance.
I walk into rooms wondering why I entered them with very little chance of recalling the reason. Wait! I recall some research regarding this effect. I think I wrote about it before. Let me find it.
OK, here goes. Back in 2011, a University of Notre Dame psychology research team identified what is called an “Event Boundary.” When I wrote about it a long time ago, I was somewhat surprised that scientists did not study this effect sooner. Although I did not know what the scientific community would call the effect, I knew of its existence for most of my life as a trainer. My own, unscientific research established its existence way back over 40 years ago. The effect continues to be proven over and over.
As an instructor, I discussed a topic in the classroom, queried the students for understanding and even gave written quizzes to verify the knowledge. The students got it. There was no doubt that they understood and internalized the topic. I did a great job transferring the information. Then, we would go to perform the laboratory exercises.
In the labs, the students had forgotten everything we discussed. If it were not a serious situation, it would be amusing to see a bunch of zombies wandering around aimlessly. I would even ask them to turn to their notes and the information would be there, in their own handwriting. They just took the notes five minutes before.
I got to the point of telling the class, while still in the classroom, that we had installed an erase mechanism in the doorway. The mechanism would erase their memory of all that we discussed in the class. Some of you would recall me telling you this but the mechanism did its job here also.
The Notre Dame research verifies the erase effect. The researcher said, “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.” Yep, I knew this. It files it away apparently in write-only memory, never to be seen again. The article says, “…the doorway or “event boundary” impedes one’s ability to retrieve thoughts or decisions made in a different room.”
You encounter this effect when you leave one room to do something in another room. How often do you forget why you went there? You then have to go back to the original room, to the exact spot where you were when you made the decision. The memory then floods back and you feel a little stupid for having forgotten such a simple task.
Now that I remember that the effect has a scientific name, I will use this to my advantage. When I forget things now I shall blame the event boundary rather than old age. It makes perfect sense that the vast majority of what I learned happened in some room a huge distance away from the one in which I find myself at any point in time. I surely navigated many, many doorways since the information entered my brain. Therefore, what we call old age, spacing out, brain flatulence, etc., is actually a natural effect of having walked through so many doorways over a lifetime. It makes sense that the older you are, the more doors you walk through, therefore the more you forget.
So how can we prevent and even erase this effect? We walk through doors facing the exit from the room. The event boundary effect occurs when we do this. Logic dictates that the event boundary effect could be eliminated by backing through doorways. The mind is a wonderful thing. It can be fooled. When the mind perceives us as not leaving but entering the same room where we made the decision, it will not forget what we wanted to do. My own experiments verify this. Try it. It works. Walk backwards through the doorway when leaving a room. It will improve your memory and generate new conversations when people see you do it.
Additional scientific research by trained professionals may be required before everyone is convinced to exit backwards through doorways. I vaguely remember sending a letter outlining my discovery to Notre Dame, however the expected research grant never appeared. Bottom line, walk backwards my friend.
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